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Showing posts from June, 2009

Clapton and Winwood Night

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Eric Clapton is one of my all time favorites. The dude is frakking awesome! I saw him many years back at ASU and it was a fabulous show. When I saw that he was coming back to Phoenix, I jumped on the tickets. In fact, I was even late for a meeting because I had to get them as soon as they came online.

It seemed like it took forever to get to the concert date but it finally arrived. The show was at Jobing.com arena which is 30 miles from my house. Even with an 8 PM start, if we wanted to eat over there we were going to have to fight lots of rush hour traffic. My companion had a great idea which was to eat at the Outback in our hood then head to the show. Very smart.

Our waiter at Outback informed us in his chit chat that he'd just come back from a one week vacation. Unpaid. After having to correct both of our orders and him still getting the salad wrong, we were guessing it was a "take the week off to think about whether you're really right for your job" vacation. Fortu…

Book Review - Agincourt

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Azincourt by Bernard Cornwell



My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great historical fiction from Cornwell. The guy clearly does his research and brings to life the era.

This time, it's the 1400s as King Henry V of England decides that God's on his side in his claim to the French throne. Henry and an army of archers and men at arms invade France, lay siege to Harfleur and battle the French army at Agincourt.

The story revolves around Nick Hook, a young English archer who survives the massacre at Soissons, falls in love with a young French girl and defends himself from sworn enemies from home. Oh, and he hears the voices of two long dead Saints in his head while this is all going on.

Good book and a great history lesson.

View all my reviews.

Me No Likey IE8

In the ongoing (at least ongoing in the geek circles I run in) argument of Mac vs. PC and Apple vs. Microsoft, I am a staunch PC/MS proponent. Not only do I not think that Bill Gates is the devil, I actually greatly admire the guy. Steve Jobs, on the other hand, I think may be brilliant but a few cards short of a deck.

But, my experience with using Internet Explorer 8 is making me curse Microsoft on a daily basis.

First of all, they pushed it out with their security updates so I unwillingly got it. I know, lesson learned, I should control my updates but I trusted them.

Second, it doesn't play well with many of my usual sites. Gmail and Blogspot were hosed. I can sort of understand that since those are Google products and why would you worry about making things work with a competitor's products.

But, Facebook? Really? Come on, it's only the most popular social network site in the world. Wouldn't you want your new browser to actually work with it?

Oh, wait, you may b…

Just wondering...

What was the cost of lost productivity today as people scoured the web for news on Farrah and Michael Jackson then met up at the water cooler to discuss?

Guess We're On The Right Track

We recently converted everyone from Groupwise email to Google Apps here at work. It was a big project and an even bigger change for the users. The systems are very different and we did a LOT of training.

Once the dust settled from the conversion, I started sending out a weekly Google Tip. I (mostly I) pick the topics and I'm trying to go with the more relevant stuff first. I also add some of my personal humor to them with the hope of making them more interesting. They only go out one a week because folks are more likely to read just a short item then plow through a long list.

The feedback has been positive with the exception of Sugar Daddy who said he's going to consider my messages Spam. I guess when you've been using gmail for years, you don't think you need any more tips.

I follow Google on Twitter and yesterday they tweeted a link for gmail tips on a handy laminated page. You could also print it out. I was pleasantly surprised to see that we covered a lot of the more…

Book Review - OOPS! I Won Too Much Money

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OOPS! I Won Too Much Money: Winning Wisdom from the Boardroom to the Poker Table by Tom Schneider



My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars

Our CFO read this book and recommended it to a bunch of people. Very easy format to read - 1 to 2 page stories with a paragraph summary of the "wisdom". The wisdom/lessons apply to daily life, poker or business depending on how you take them. And, usually all three areas are relevant.
Schneider uses lots of poker and business anecdotes to illustrate his lessons. Since I love both poker and business, I thought it was great. You don't need to know poker but I think it would help.

This was a quick read. One of my co-workers who doesn't enjoy reading finished it in one night.

View all my reviews.

I Guess I'm Above Average

I was browsing the net for professional networking tips for our manager's group at work. There's a ton of stuff out there, BTW.

One article I read said that the average person knows 250 people. Really?

I'm thinking the average person must live in a cave if that's a fact.

Granted, I am a very social person but, for example, I have over 300 Facebook friends and I actually have met them all. And, I know lots of people who aren't on Facebook between work, parrot heads, book club and people I've met through friends.

Maybe it depends on the definition of "know". We have 400ish employees at my company and I think I know about half of them by name. Does that count as knowing them? Or, do you have to have a personal relationship of some sort? Beyond the "how was your weekend and are you guys busy today?" stuff.

I don't know, maybe I'm just way more social than the average and that number is right.

Demon Rum

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Another tale from Hermosa Beach…(as well as I can remember it and mostly reconstructed from tweets, FB updates and pictures).

We spent Saturday morning/early afternoon walking around Venice Beach and looking for a place to have a beer. That was harder than I expected it to be. We finally found a German place a little before 11 and ordered beers while waiting for them to start serving off their lunch menu. I had an Anchor Steam then switched to Hefe. Pretty much everything on their breakfast menu was egg related and eggs and I do not get along.
First beer of the day.We had a nice lunch, more beers and Dawnie made friends with some local types who ride their bikes up and down the beaches every day. We actually sat outside after we ate because it was nearly warm enough to do so. No sun, though.

Just before we decided to leave, a couple asked if they could sit at our table. They were from Switzerland and I told them that's where my Dad's family is from and I told them my last name. T…

Dionysis Speaks

As I pulled a bottle out of my cooler on Wednesday, I noticed that my white selections were now down to only Champagnes. Still good on reds but probably because I don't drink them as often.

Now, I would drink Champagne every day but it doesn't keep well and not even I want to drink a whole bottle of wine at each sitting. I could and have but, really, it's not the healthiest idea.

My first thought was, "I need a BevMo 5 cent sale!"

This morning, I opened up my email and, like bitters (my new word for magic), there was a message from BevMo! New 5 cent sale starts tomorrow!

I had collected my mail last night and tossed it on the dining room table without going through it. I glanced through it before leaving for work and there was a promo piece for the 5 cent sale that featured several of my favorites.

If that all isn't a message from the god of wine, I don't know what is. And, who am I to argue with a sign from a god?

Bitters = Magic!

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A tale from our Hermosa Beach weekend…(to the best of my recollection).

How do you know that Kathy is really inebriated? Look to see if she has the hiccups.

Man, they kill me. I get them fast and furiously. I tried the holding the breath thing, drinking water without breathing, sugar on a spoon…none of those works.

One technique requires a partner but it does work despite being strange but true. I have my friend stand behind me and she puts her index fingers in my ears and uses her thumbs to pinch my nose. No air escaping, there. Then, I constantly swallow water until I absolutely have to take a breath. It works but it looks goofy. Seriously goofy like the whole bar will be watching you before it's done.

I got the hiccups at our first night at The Mermaid. That's not too surprising considering our afternoon and evening of bar hopping. Dawnie called Kenny, our new favorite bartender over, and ordered some Bitters. He gave me the bottle and a few lime slices.

The technique is to pour…

A Public Service Announcement

Here's what happens when you pick up what you think is an empty Diet Pepsi can off your desk when it's actually a completely full one.

You spill all over your keyboard, you cellphone, a file folder and a book that you borrowed from one of your co-workers who actually borrowed it from his boss.

Once again, trying to be a lesson in what not do for my loyal readers.

Dear Sir or Madam...

As a public interest for the many people who email me on a daily basis, here are some things to know so you can take me off your distribution lists.

1. I don't have an appendage that needs to be increased in volume, strength nor size.

2. I'm not looking to refinance my mortgage nor is my home about to be foreclosed upon.

3. My credit card debt is under control.

4. I don't do drugs, m-kay, so I don't need Zanax, Soma (thought I love it), Valium, Ambien, Zoloft, Hydrocodone, Vicodin or Phentermine (actually, I don't even know what Phentermine is).

5. If the camera removed 10 pounds instead of adding it, I might be willing to fulfill Robert Pattinson, Pierce Brosnan, Jerry Seinfeld, Tyler Perry, et al's desire to have me co-star with them. Until then, no thanks.

6. I have plenty of home insurance, auto insurance and warranties, life insurance, dental insurance and health insurance.

7. I'm not looking for a career as a CSI, Photographer, Medical Billing Professional, …

They Liked It, The Really Liked It!

We had a club Happy Hour at Crash's house last night. It was a "bring a dish to share if you wanted to" type of thing. I'm usually the bag of chips and store bought dip type but I decided to actually make something.

I got compliments on it!

Considering I just threw it together, I thought that was remarkable. While I'm good at following recipes, I'm not that creative.

Here's the recipe (amounts are guesstimates since I eyeballed it for the most part):

Shrimp Pasta Salad

Mini Fusilli cooked pasta (6 servings)
1 pound medium cooked shrimp, cut into 1/2 pieces
4 cloves garlic, very finely diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 large white onion, finely diced
1 beefsteak tomato, diced
1/3 bottle of Newman's Light Italian Dressing (just enough to very lightly coat)
1 ounce freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper

Chop the veggies and shrimp while the pasta's cooking. Cook pasta to still firm, rinse thoroughly with cold water. Mix veggies/shrimp with pasta…

Dagwood's a Parrot Head?

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Couldn't Stop If I Tried

I readily admit I have an addictive personality. There's too much evidence to the contrary to deny it anyway so I just embrace my passion (or obsessive compulsion) for various activities and enjoy it.

What I didn't realize is how my addictions can feed off of each other.

I recently got on Twitter (az48fan if you want to follow me) and I've been adding people to follow here and there but with no plan. It was mostly just my friends. But, in the past few days I decided to make the effort to add as many people of interest that I could find. I think I was inspired by the Time cover story on Twitter combined with several electronic articles from the various tech sites I follow.

So, I added some political folks, some business leaders and some entertainers. But, I didn't stop there.

Somehow, it came to me to follow some pro poker players. Next thing I knew, I had added a bunch of them and some general poker Tweeters, too. The players are all in Las Vegas playing in WSOP (Wor…

Organics

I got my first (this go around) delivery of organics this morning.

In the box:

heirloom carrots
red grapes
beefsteak tomatoes
bananas
apples
lettuce
celery
bok choy
crookneck squash
white onion
chard
yams

They included three recipes, one each for the chard, bok choy and squash.

Time to hit the kitchen!

Less of the Boob Tube, More of the Print

I spend a lot of time watching TV. Even with the DVR, it's many hours a week. However, I don't think it's a lot until this time of year. Most of my shows are on break so I'm only recording 4 or 5 hours a week. I can get through that in a Saturday morning.

My computer time is down, too. Usually, I'm multi-tasking by watching TV and playing online games or Facebooking. Now that I'm not glued to the tube, I'm finding the lure of the laptop has decreased.

It's so freeing!

I've had time to clean (OK, not a lot but still), listen to music and read. I will even have time to cook. And, I'm getting more sleep which is a good thing.

My reading had dropped down a lot but I'm getting oodles in now. I have a year's worth of Information Week and Arizona Highway's magazines stacked up that I'm now going through. Also, Dawnie's daughter was selling subscriptions for a school fundraiser so I started Time and Cooking Light.

My reserved li…

Book Review - Extreme Measures

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Extreme Measures by Vince Flynn



My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars

I quite enjoy Flynn's books featuring Mitch Rapp. He's the literary equivalent to Jack Bauer - he does the dirty work that no one wants to acknowledge but it's to protect us all.

While Rapp is a prominent character in this book, the focus is on Mike Nash. Nash also does secret stuff for the CIA but he's trying to balance his job with raising a young family. His wife doesn't quite know or understand what he does which makes it even more challenging. I liked the human aspect of the story a lot.

Nash and Rapp are on the hunt for an Al-Qaida cell that's about to launch a terrorist attack on US soil. They get a great lead but are stopped from pursuing it when a Senator decides to put the CIA on trial, so to speak, for "enhanced" interrogations.

Flynn makes many points about political correctness, government policies and politicians all standing in the way of the front line people who are trying to ke…

Less Social Networking, More Professional Networking

One of my work friends and I have made New Year's Resolutions for, I dunno, 3 or 4 (5?) years now to update our resumes. We've both been at the company for 10 years and have never updated them. Since I wasn't in the market for a new job and the whole process seems so daunting, I still haven't done it.

However, my friend apparently woke up one morning about 3 months ago and decided it was time for a change. She not only updated her resume, she went and got herself a new job! Overachiever.

That made me think about a lot of "what ifs". What if I was talking to someone and they said they had the perfect job for me? "Just send me your resume right away." What if something happens to our company and we make cuts? What if I wake up tomorrow and decide I need a change?

OK, all highly unlikely propositions. It's not like people are walking around handing out jobs these days. My company is weathering this economy pretty well and I haven't want…

It's Never Simple...

I had two items on my personal To Do list this week and both of them turned into a PITA (That's Pain In The Arse for the non-acronym savvy.).

Item 1 was to get some savings bonds cashed in.

My Great-Aunt Catherine passed away a few months ago. She never got married or had any children so she gave all of her nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews bonds. It was an unexpected surprise but appreciated.

To get them processed, you have to go to a FDIC institution, have them verify your identity on some paperwork and the bonds themselves then send the bonds to the Treasury who will then deposit the money in your bank account. My parents had to open a new bank account to get it done because they were only using a credit union.

I went to the Wells Fargo at lunch yesterday with my bonds and my Aunt's death certificate. I asked the concierge if I needed to see a banker or if the teller could process them. She said teller.

I handed the paperwork over to a teller and she asked me …

A Step Forward That's Actually A Step Back

In our last session of our latest health class at work, Christine asked us what we are doing now (good things) that we weren't doing 14 weeks ago when we started. She was trying to get us to see that even small forward steps are still, well, forward.

One of the guys said he started reading food labels. I had already been doing that but mostly looked at calorie and fat counts and nothing else. Now, I look at ingredients to spot high fructose corn syrup and trans fats and I'm also paying a lot of attention to the fiber counts. Our suggested daily amount is 24 grams and, trust me, it takes an effort to get to that.

One of the girls said she's now eating at home 6 days a week. Wow. Not only is she controlling her own ingredients, she's also saving a bunch of money. She bought a Weight Watchers cookbook and she makes at least three new recipes each week. She and her fiancee rate them and have found some keepers.

That got me to thinking about how much I eat out. I go o…

The Dishwasher Tale

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I finally broke down and bought a new dishwasher. It was mostly because I was tired of seeing the old one partially torn apart and just sitting there, partially because I was tired of doing dishes and a lot of "I need to start cooking again" which leads back to reason two.

Of course, once I made up my mind I was all over getting it done ASAP. The Rocket Scientist had offered to install it for me and he's getting his kids for two weeks starting a week from today so I needed to give him time to get it done. I figured this past weekend was about all I had so I got online on Thursday to shop.

I ended up with a Kenmore from Sears.com. It was on sale, had good ratings and had the food processing feature which is a must. I see no sense in rinsing dishes just so the dishwasher can clean them.

The earliest they could deliver it was Sunday. I really wanted it on Saturday (immediate gratification girl that I am) so I checked a couple of other models but they were all Sunday, too. As I…

If She Would Just Listen...

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I made dinner for The Rocket Scientist last night. It was the least I could do since he spent most of the day installing my dishwasher and hooking up my ice maker.

Since we had "company", I cleared off the dining room table. The empty space alone was enough to attract George to it. Then, I put the plates and silverware on and those were even more of a kitty magnet.

I chased her off twice. The second time was pretty funny because she wanted to jump off on to the chair by my laptop was on there and she just didn't know how to get away. The third time, I snuck up on her and picked her up off the table. That got a pitiful mew out of her because she knew what was coming.

Yep, time out in her room.

She didn't cry as much this time as she did in her last time out. But, she didn't want us to forget she was in there, either. So, she kept her paw out under the door. Just a little reminder, "Hey, don't forget me in here!"

Hello!I let her out as soon as I had the ta…

Book Review - Small Favor

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Small Favor by Jim Butcher



My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars

And now I have to wait for my library request for the latest book...sigh.

Another good entry (though I would give it 3 1/2 stars if I could) in the Dresden series, Small Favor was fun and filled with secrets and intrigue. I especially liked the visits from the Billy Goats Gruff (they're fairies in case you didn't know).

Some good character development and reall danger to someone close to Harry. He usually manages to pull them out of the fire but it was inevitable that someone was going to get seriously hurt.

View all my reviews.

Book Review - White Night

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White Night by Jim Butcher



My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gosh, I love these books. The character and storyline progression are very satisfying and realistic. Well, as realistic as a book about a Wizard can be.

This one finds Harry working with his childhood girlfriend, Elaine, to protect a group of witches who are being systematically hunted and killed. The final big battle was a tad overdone but I enjoyed it none the less.

My only complaint is that I'm in to the next book then I'll have only the brand new to read before I'm caught up. Ack! I'll have to wait a long time after that.

View all my reviews.

Working From Home

Our company utilizes telecommuting a lot. Most of our sales people work from home all the time and some departments let people do it a few times a week or month. Our department lets some people work up to 1 day a week from home.

Not so much the managers, though. We have an "at the discretion of the Director" clause on our home days. That pretty much means we don't but that it's still an option.

I optioned the clause and had my first ever telecommuting day yesterday. It was a matter of life or death. For my co-workers, that is. I needed a break or someone was getting maimed at the very least. Because I'm a lover and not a fighter, I figured it would be better to have a trial separation.

One of our telecommuting rules is that you must have daycare if you have kids at home. Fifteen minutes into my morning, I was wishing I had hired a sitter for George. Seriously.

Besides her usual "let me help you work the computer" bit, she tried to steal my pen off the table…